Fire guts birthplace of spy Mata Hari

AFP-JIJI

A fire in the Netherlands has gutted the birthplace of exotic dancer and World War I spy Mata Hari, Dutch media said Sunday.

One man reportedly died in the blaze, which broke out Saturday evening in the Frisian city of Leeuwarden, about 140 km north of Amsterdam.

It destroyed several buildings, including the one where Mata Hari, a shopkeeper’s daughter, was born as Margaretha Geertruida Zelle on Aug. 7, 1876. Its cause is unknown.

Zelle traveled in 1903 to Paris, where she became famous across Europe for her exotic Eastern dances and liaisons with various men while moving in high society.

She became synonymous with the archetypical femme fatale. Several movies were made about her life.

Mata Hari was arrested and executed by firing squad in October 1917, at age 41, after being accused of being a German spy in World War I.

The fire consumed the hair salon occupied the place of Mata Hari’s birth. The only reminder untouched by the flames was a statuette of her dancing outside the shop.